Part of the allure to mini-farming is making your own products. Since we have only been at it for a couple months, we can’t make everything with homegrown ingredients yet, but we can still save money by making things like soap, tooth-paste, and seltzer, as we have done. The other benefit is that you know a bit more about what is really in the products you are using; unfortunately lots of tooth-paste and soap have some harmful stuff in there to make them foam.
Most recently I made my own tooth-paste, because I am running out of my Ava Anderson chemical free toothpaste, and wanted to save money. The recipe was pretty simple that I found on DIYNatural, but I added my own flare with a couple extra essential oils. Here’s what I did:
In an 8 ounce jar, I combined 2/3 cup of baking soda with 1 tsp. of sea salt which I ground to a powder with a mortar and pestle, so that it would not scratch the enamel. The baking soda is to clean and whiten the teeth, and the salt is meant to re-mineralize the enamel.
Now, the original recipe called for enough water to turn that powder into a paste, but I took a different route. According to the book The Green Pharmacy by James Duke, chamomile tea is a disinfectant of the gums, which can help prevent gingivitis by getting deep down to tackle the germs stuck in the gums. In fact gingivitis simply means swelling of the gums, and there are varying degrees of the disease, but it is something most of us will deal with at some point in our lives. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, as they say.
So instead of water I made a tea of chamomile and green tea. The green tea, because of the tannins and astringent quality, acts to protect the teeth from bacteria that cause tooth decay and gingivitis. I mixed the tea with the baking soda and powdered salt, and then added some essential oils.
Keep in mind you do not want to swallow essential oils, and even an ounce can be fatal. That being said, I did not use nearly an ounce of essential oils in the entire batch of tooth paste, let alone for each brushing session.
I used 5 drops of peppermint essential oil, which smells nice, and makes for a fresh taste. But peppermint oil is also antiseptic, which means it helps cure the root cause of bad breath, and not just cover the smell.
I could have stopped there, and next time I might. The reason is, a nice fresh peppermint toothpaste feels natural and leaves my mouth feeling clean. The next to essential oils definitely help with oral hygiene, but they don’t really make the paste taste especially good. Your breath certainly won’t smell bad after brushing, but it won’t have the classic fresh mint smell.
That being said, I added 5 drops of teatree oil because it is also antiseptic. It doesn’t really taste good though, so I think I will save it for a mouthwash in the future, if I feel any swelling in the gums. James Duke recommends swishing a couple drops diluted in a glass of water, and spitting it out to combat gingivitis.
I also added 5 drops of eucalyptus oil, another antiseptic. Again, next time I will probably just stick to the peppermint.
My sister’s fiance has been making hard cider for some time, and since he already had the equipment, decided to throw together some seltzer as well. He simply filled up a five gallon keg with filtered water, added about a half cup of lemon juice, and attached the keg to the carbon dioxide tank to carbonate. In just about a day, we had five gallons of seltzer on tap, which went surprisingly quickly. Next time I am encouraging him to try making green tea seltzer with lemon.
My sister Steph and I have made a couple batches of soap already as well. We learned how at PorcFest from Hershel who makes Shire Soaps. Soap making is basically a chemical reaction between lye and fat. So we mixed shea butter, olive oil, and coconut oil as our fats, using an online soap making calculator to determine how much of each. Shea butter is solid, so we microwaved it a little at a time to melt it, and get the temperature up in order to mix with the lye.
Then we mixed the lye with water, always adding the water to the lye very carefully in a well ventilated area, or preferably outdoors, because it creates toxic fumes (and heats up) when it combines with water. Finally when the two mixtures were within ten degrees of each other, both around 110, we mixed them using a handheld blender, and added our essential oils, like lemongrass, rosemary, and lavender. Then, into a PVC pipe lined with parchment paper it goes for 24 hours to set, before we cut it, and let it dry for a month.
And that is all just the beginning when it comes to home-made. We are getting some various styles of garden beds together to plant, which I will share soon!